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This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity

Kwanzaa begins with Unity. Is there any value that should resonate more with all of us? Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African American strengths and values. I’m not Black, so I can’t presume to speak for Black people (other than as an ally against racism).

But no American of any ethnic background can afford to spurn the idea that unity is a paramount value, and sadly lacking in the USA right now. In this historical moment, all of us could afford to learn a few things from our Black neighbors and friends.

I don’t believe I did justice to the first day of Kwanzaa, back in 2017 when I wrote my first post about it. I squeezed it in between two other “holiday thoughts,” about the day after Christmas and Boxing Day. Both have their place, but Kwanzaa deserves to stand alone.

This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”
Image by, and courtesy of, Jeffrey St. Clair. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity and so Should We

If you think about it, unity is what brought us together as a nation in the first place: unity against outside tyranny. We were perpetuating our own egregious tyranny over the enslaved Africans whose labor our white ancestors stole to build a lot of the young country. But at the same time the founders (apparently unironically) set forth principles of equity and justice.

The very foundations of this country were uniquely well-adapted to building a multicultural nationality. Emphasizing freedom, equality, and justice for everyone under the law was radical stuff in the 18th Century.

And it’s still radical stuff today. We set ourselves up “from the get-go” for a lot of trying and falling short. We are a multicultural republic, stitched together both by force and by choice. And we are perpetually certain to come up against opposing views competing for space and dominance.

The background of this square image is a charcoal drawing of four hands and forearms in a roughly square alignment, where each hand grasps the wrist of the person to their right. Superimposed over the drawing, it says, “’Unity is Strength, Division is Weakness.’ – Swahili Proverb.”
Courtesy of United We Stand on Facebook. See Credits below.

But Beginning is Not Enough

If you look at the whole principle as outlined in Jeffrey St. Clair’s design, the idea is “to maintain unity in family, community, nation and culture.” That’s no small feat. And it’s definitely not something we can do alone. That takes commitment. It takes grit, it takes communication, and it takes a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated, like-minded people.

Kwanza begins with Unity, but it continues with six other principles that ground and support and make unity happen. This holiday celebrates strong Black people living in a vibrant culture – but no single segment of our multicultural republic can flourish without a broader unity.

Here in the USA we’ve managed to let ourselves be drawn into warring camps, to the extent that we’re in serious danger of losing it all. Can the “democratic experiment” we started almost 250 years ago survive? Not without Umoja. And not without Black people, White people, Native people, immigrants from all different communities and everybody else in this country joining together in our own self-defense.

This is a dark red square image with a length of woven Kente cloth across the bottom. At the top it says “@SanCophaLeague,” Then “Black Unity is key. ‘Get organized and you will compel the world to respect you.’ -Marcus Garvey.” In the lower left, just above the cloth band, it says, “Facebook.com/SanCophaLeague.”
Courtesy of SanCophaLeague. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins With Unity, but the Series Continues

I have spent a lot of time this week going back though my old series of Kwanzaa articles and updating them for today’s standards. 2017 was 6 years ago, which is an eon or so on the Internet. Now they’re ready for mobile devices, and I’ve tried to optimize them other ways, as well as expand them into fuller explorations of the topic. Along the way, I’ve also worked to improve the illustrations in both quality and relevance.

So please take a look at the rest of the series in their new format! Take them in order, or skip around if one or another takes your fancy: See Self-Determination on Day Two, followed by Working Together and Investing Wisely. From there, explore Empowerment through Purpose, and Creative Healing. Appropriately enough, on New Year’s Day Kwanzaa Ends with Faith to Take that Step . . . whatever you determine those steps should be in the coming year.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair, via LinkedIn’s Slide Share for today’s Umoja: Unity design. I really loved the “Unity is Strength” quote-image from United We Stand on Facebook, and I also loved how the quote coordinated with my topic today. It was a little harder to track down the SanCophaLeague’s exact image, which I first found on Pinterest. I figure it’s got to come from them since their name is all over it, but even Tineye Reverse Image Search didn’t turn it up. In any case, Thank you!

This illustration shows many diverse ages, races, and cultures.

Politics on Rana Station

In last week’s post I promised to talk about politics on Rana Station this week. As I said in that post, I built the Station’s system on ideas garnered from decades of teaching, studying history, and observing our contemporary society.

Those experiences inspired the guiding question, What kind of environment would allow ALL of my students to reach their full potential?

Three children play in an outdoors setting with found objects.
Natural spaces offer many free-play options, which are good for kids. (uncredited photo from Community Playthings)

I’ve spent most of my career teaching both urban and rural students from lower-income areas. I knew our current system definitely wasn’t cutting it.

But the more I studied, the clearer it became that the problems were bigger than schools.

Children do well where everyone around them does too

Thriving children come from thriving communities with good safety nets and essential needs provided for. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have such a system. The Covid-19 pandemic has made that fact plainer than ever, and it was already painfully clear to anyone paying attention.

Members of White Coats for Black Lives demonstrate at a Black Lives Matter rally in June 2020.
Members of White Coats for Black Lives demonstrate at a Black Lives Matter rally in June 2020. (Photo by Maria Khrenova/TASS/Getty, via Yes Magazine.)

When I taught in more well-off parts of Johnson County, Kansas, I saw places where many students did succeed. Those kids were never hungry. Most had excellent medical care. Their families enriched their backgrounds with travel, summer camp, outings museums, zoos, concerts, or other experiences.

Children still sometimes “fell through the cracks,” often for the same reasons inner-city or rural kids did. Only about 5.3% of Johnson Countians fall below the poverty line, but for those who do, services are sparse and mass-transit leaves much to be desired. But even kids from well-off homes could suffer from mental health issues, domestic violence, or drug habits that impacted all aspects of their lives.

How could Rana Station do better?

I didn’t build my fictitious space station to be a political manifesto. I knew from the start that I couldn’t geek out on “mastery learning,” decriminalization of addiction, restorative justice, or other pet ideas, and still write an entertaining science fiction mystery. (Instead, I opted to do that in blog posts. You’ve now been warned!)

A protester demonstrates in support of supervised injection sites in Philadelphia in December 2019.
A protester demonstrates in support of supervised injection sites in Philadelphia in December 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP, via Baltimore Sun.)

But I could write the station’s governmental system into the background of the action as a thought experiment. Insert ideas as they became appropriate. Discard things that slowed the narrative.

What’s different on Rana Station?

As I noted last week, I don’t believe in utopias. There’s no possibility of a “perfect system,” if it’s run by imperfect beings—and everyone’s an imperfect being. But we can try to do better than whatever our current system has become. That’s what I’ve tried to reflect in the politics on Rana Station.

I do believe strongly that diverse cultures foster a more resilient society, so I’ve tried to depict a variety of cultures and species in these books. There are four different kinds of sapient beings among Rana’s citizens.

Faces of different ages, races, and cultures fill this illustration by "Franzidraws."
I believe a diverse community builds in greater creativity and resilience. (Illustration by “Franzidraws.”)

Ranan law and civic culture regards all backgrounds, body-colorations, family configurations, and cultures as equally acceptable. Readers of my two currently-published books know there’s no stigma attached to homosexuality. I have plans to expand that to other gender identities as well. My research goes forward, and as I learn, I hope to find good opportunities for representation.

My love of diversity “outs” me as a dedicated multiculturalist. Just don’t expect all this diversity not to generate differences of opinion. After all, emotions and conflict are the soul of good fiction.

Other than diverse sapient species, what’s different?

Many of the human characters live in large, extended families of relatives, in-laws, and sometimes friends who’ve become “family by choice.” Their residence towers are multi-household dwellings, kind of like an apartment building, only everyone’s a relative. Space to grow food is at a premium on Rana, so they build up, not out.

How do these large, extended families keep from killing each other? In part, cultural norms have grown up to govern “best practices” in extended-family dwellings. But some people just don’t thrive in these settings. They are free to move out—or sometimes the family decides to evict them. And for disagreements or mediation, they have Listeners.

A child psychologist and a young girl talk.
Listeners on Rana Station are trained mental health specialists. Here, a more Earthbound child psychologist and a young girl talk.(Photo by Valerii Honcharuk.)

Listeners are trained psychologists and social workers. Like physicians and other physical-health-care professionals, They make up part of the health care infrastructure. Unlike in our contemporary USA, mental and physical health care is viewed as a universal right. So are access to food, education, and shelter.

What kind of system do the politics on Rana Station reflect?

Rana’s list of basic rights might seem to peg me as a socialist for some, although that would technically be incorrect. In my opinion, these are basic infrastructure elements that any reasonable government should provide.

A system that doesn’t supply essential benefits to the people who support it with their votes and taxes is pretty darn corrupt, in my opinion. Why have it, if it doesn’t benefit all of its citizens, including those experiencing hard times?

People gather around a raised bed at a community garden in Oakland, CA.
Unlike in the United States, food insecurity is virtually unknown on Rana Station. Here, a group gathers at the Acta no Verba Garden in Oakland, CA. (photo by Leonor Hurtado).

My sympathy for restorative justice and Summerhill-type “free schooling” might make some think I’m an anarchist at heart, but that’s not my philosophical home. Observant folk might also notice I didn’t “abolish” the Orangeboro Police Department, among other things.

The presence of a vigorous business community and varied personal-income levels on Rana Station might argue that I’m a capitalist. That’s probably accurate, although I regard capitalism in much the same way I do fire: uncontrolled, it can consume and destroy everything. Appropriately regulated, it can power widespread benefits.

Politics on Rana Station, and unintended consequences

If Rana sounds like a nice place to live, it might suit you in the way its founders (both fictional and me) hoped. But that warning about utopias holds, here.

The system has its weak links, failures, and faults. The Orangeboro cops and their counterparts on other parts of the Station find plenty of work to do. “Enemies, both foreign and domestic,” keep Rana’s leaders busy, as well.

And they open up lots of opportunities for stories I hope you and I can both enjoy.

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to Community Playthings, for the uncredited photo of the children at play. I’m grateful to Yes Magazine and photographer Maria Khrenova of TASS/Getty Images for the photo of White Coats for Black Lives demonstrators in New York last summer (June 2020). I appreciate the Baltimore Sun and photographer Matt Rourke/AP for the photo of the demonstrator who called for safe drug-use sites in Philadelphia last December (2019).

Thanks very much to 123RF for the “diverse community” illustration by Franzidraws, and for the photo of the psychologist working with the young girl, taken by Valerii Honcharuk. I also appreciate Food First and photographer Leonor Hurtado, for the photo of the community garden group from Oakland, CA.

A city worker power-washes "Defund the Police" from the road outside the Atlanta Police Department, after the protests in Atlanta.

How (and why) might we defund police?

It appears that when people say, “Defund the Police!” they often don’t mean completely. They usually appear not to mean “dismantle the police force and don’t replace it,” although some do. I started examining the ideas of abolishing or defunding the police in the previous post on this blog.

Defund the Police, like Abolish the Police, is an arresting (sorry), but inadequate slogan. Like most ideas, if you take the logic to its farthest extreme, it’s a terrible idea (hint: for real-life applications, never go to the farthest extreme). But people have begun to have valuable discussions about the way forward.

In this Kevin Siers cartoon, two protesters carry a large banner, emblazoned with a very long slogan that takes up several lines and goes off the edge of the cartoon. Part of it says, "Defund reform repair reeval ... improve rework reenvision ...reinvent cleanse reshape recreate ... Police." One says to the other, "We need a new slogan!"
(Kevin Siers cartoon courtesy of Charlotte Observer/McClatchey)

Deciphering what they actually mean

In the simplest statements I’ve heard, the idea is to reallocate some funds from the local police department. Then to spend them building up departments that would be more appropriate responders to certain kinds of situations. Police solutions often end with someone arrested or ticketed, possibly taken to jail. That’s appropriate for some things, but not for others.

For example, if it’s a mental health crisis, deploy some kind of mental health equivalent of EMTs (and yes, I know we don’t have those yet). This would radically reduce the number of incidents in which a mentally ill person in crisis (but mostly a danger only to themselves) isn’t confronted, further agitated, and then eventually killed by police.

Another example we often hear cited is when police are called to deal with persons experiencing homelessness. What do these people need? Certainly a better place to live. Many also need mental health counseling, physical health care, possibly addiction treatment, additional education so they can find a job, or other services. What can police do about them? Usually none of those things. They can arrest them, or force them to go somewhere else. That’s pretty much it.

A large, multi-spout teapot labeled "Defund the Police" pours tea into cups marked "education," "universal healthcare," "youth services," "housing," and "other community reinvestments."
(Illustration courtesy of Aleksey Weintraub, @LAKUTIS via Twitter)

Why many say policing itself needs a re-think

Diversity training is only as good as the trainer who teaches, and the personal investment of the people who show up. Until individual officers take the messages to heart–and until there’s greater diversity and cross-cultural understanding in most police departments, cultural clashes will continue to fuel bad outcomes.

If the overall culture of the department doesn’t change (and changing police culture is an uphill climb), street-level outcomes won’t, either. Many American police are actively trained to distrust their communities, and to believe every encounter could end in violence against them. They are taught to “fear for their lives” almost as a default-setting. The “warrior” mindset of increased police militarization isn’t helping any of us.

Even when radical overhauls happen, there’s often still a gap between desire and result. It’s discouraging. But allowing ourselves to feel defeated and saying, “I give up” isn’t a sustainable solution. Sweeping problems (and problem officers) under the rug doesn’t work. Perpetuating and doubling-down on “how we’ve always done things” doesn’t cut it. We’ve been doing that for decades, and the results keep getting more extreme.

A city worker power-washes "Defund the Police" from the road outside the Atlanta Police Department, after the protests in Atlanta.
A city worker power-washes “Defund the Police” from the road outside the Atlanta Police Department, after the protests in Atlanta. When the protests subside, will calls for reform be as easy to erase or ignore? (Photo by Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

What is policing supposed to do?

It gets down to questioning the very purpose of policing. Why do we have police? To keep public order, so we feel safer in our neighborhoods? To respond to (or ideally limit/prevent) crimes such as murder, assault, rape, fraud, and similar invasions of property and person

Do they have a role in limiting vandalism, truancy, and roving bands of unoccupied youths, or should other programs address those ills?

Do we want police to prioritize our privacy and personal autonomy at the expense of the privacy and personal autonomy of others? How much governmental intrusion is acceptable, and are we okay with knowing that some people experience more heavy-handed treatment than others?

De-criminalizing our society

Many proposals start with a laundry-list of things to de-criminalize. I’ve already mentioned de-criminalizing homelessness in this article. A strong case also can be made for de-criminalizing addiction and drug possession

Much is made, in gun-violence arguments, of the urgent need for better mental health services. Yet we are a very long way from de-criminalizing mental illness and creating a robust safety net of mental health services.

De-criminalizing poverty is another consideration. We could do this in part by examining all proposed statutes, civil codes, and local ordinances to see which disproportionately afflict poor people. Another good starting place might be not over-policing poor and minority neighborhoods.

This cartoon by artist Barrie Maguire makes the point that de-criminalizing drug addiction would free up jail space.
Decriminalizing addiction, drug use and other “offenses” that could better be handled by other agencies would also free up jail space (Barrie Maguire cartoon courtesy of the Philadelpha Inquirer).

Where do we go from here?

Some”de-fund” arguments focus, not on policing itself, but on problems that perpetuate the conditions that encourage crime

Even before the pandemic threw them into glaring prominence, inequalities in educational opportunities, in health care, in food security and economic opportunity were major concerns. So it’s not surprising inequities claim prominent places on many people’s “to-reform” lists. Yet all of those things get less money from local governments than policing. Many cities’ biggest budget item is its public safety budget.

Some observers fear we’re rushing into things with half-baked approaches to revamping police forces or radically altering them. Others fear we’ll only use half-measures, then reluctant politicians will have an “out” to declare, “well, that didn’t work!” a few weeks or years from now.

But what if we were really serious about this? What if we actually tried a well-thought-out plan to readjust the way we do social well-being, including efforts to ensure law, order, and justice for everyone? For real.

I think we’re all still trying to figure out how that would look. But next week in this space, I’ll take a stab at relating my own vision and thoughts to my stories about policing in the future on Rana Station.

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to the Charlotte Observer/McClatchey, for the Kevin Sierscartoon. The “Defund the Police Teapot” illustration is from Aleksey Weintraub, @LAKUTIS via Twitter. It appears to be a clever adaptation of a photo of an actual, multi-spout teapot from Tea Exporter India (now a defunct link) via Alobha Exim’s Pinterest board. The photo of the city worker power-washing the street in front of the Atlanta Police Department is by the formidable Alyssa Pointerof the Atlanta Journal-Constitution The remarkable Barrie Maguire (who also did a stint at Kansas City’s own Hallmark) is a marvelous fine-art painter of Irish-inspired work, but he also created cartoons for the Philadelphia Inquirer for a while, including this one dramatizing prison overcrowding.

Women do not owe you

The Artdog Image of Interest

August is a month when many students start back to school–many in new schools. I’m dedicating my Images of Interest for the next several weeks to a reminder that as young girls grow into young women, whether they’re in public or private schools or in college, they often are subject to gender-based street harassment–catcalls, comments on their looks, etc. They don’t need this grief, but all too many experience it.

The photo shows a poster, possibly in Brooklyn, NY, placed on a weathered painted wooden wall. The poster, created by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, shows a young woman's face, head, and shoulders, above the message: "Women do not owe you their time or conversation."
Tatyana FazlalizadehWomen do not owe you their time or conversation.

This month’s Images of Interest are dedicated to those maturing girls and young women, as a reminder that we adults in the community have a responsibility to call out harassment wherever it manifests. I am deeply grateful to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, whose whose work I featured last March.

In this month of Back to School and Women’s Equality day, I’m delighted to share more of her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project.

IMAGE: Many thanks to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and her Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project, and to Katherine Brooks’s Huffington Post article, for this image.

Not seeking your validation

The Artdog Image of Interest

August is a month when many students start back to school–many in new schools. I’m dedicating my Images of Interest for the next several weeks to a reminder that as young girls grow into young women, whether they’re in public or private schools or in college, they often are subject to gender-based street harassment–catcalls, comments on their looks, etc. They don’t need this grief, but all too many experience it.

This photo shows a poster by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh on a graffitti-sprayed wall that is predominantly dark blue, with light blue, white and gold parts. The poster depicts a young woman's head and upper torso, above the message, "Women are not seeking your validation."
Tatyana FazlalizadehWomen are not seeking your validation.

This month’s Images of Interest are dedicated to those maturing girls and young women, as a reminder that we adults in the community have a responsibility to call out harassment wherever it manifests. I am deeply grateful to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, whose whose work I featured last March.

In this month of Back to School and Women’s Equality day, I’m delighted to share more of her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project.

IMAGE: Many thanks to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and her Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project, and to Katherine Brooks’s Huffington Post article, for this image.

My outfit is not an invitation

The Artdog Image of Interest

August is a month when many students start back to school–many in new schools. I’m dedicating my Images of Interest for the next several weeks to a reminder that as young girls grow into young women, whether they’re in public or private schools or in college, they often are subject to gender-based street harassment–catcalls, comments on their looks, etc. They don’t need this grief, but all too many experience it.

This photo shows a black and white poster by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, on a reddish-brown brick wall. The poster shows a young woman's head and shoulders, and the message, "My outfit is not an invitation."
Tatyana FazlalizadehMy outfit is not an invitation.

This month’s Images of Interest are dedicated to those maturing girls and young women, as a reminder that we adults in the community have a responsibility to call out harassment wherever it manifests. I am deeply grateful to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, whose whose work I featured last March.

In this month of Back to School and Women’s Equality day, I’m delighted to share more of her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project.

IMAGE: Many thanks to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and her Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project, and to Katherine Brooks’s Huffington Post article, for this image.

“I Deserve to be Respected”

The Artdog Image of Interest

August is a month when many students start back to school–many in new schools. I’m dedicating my Images of Interest for the next several weeks to a reminder that as young girls grow into young women, whether they’re in public or private schools or in college, they often are subject to gender-based street harassment–catcalls, comments on their looks, etc. They don’t need this grief, but all too many experience it.

This photo shows a poster by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, which has been placed on a public wall over a colorful mix of the scraps of earlier posters. Tatyana's poster shows the head and shoulders of a young woman, over the message "Yo Merezco Ser Respetada," which is Spanish for "I deserve your respect."
Tatyana FazlalizadehYo Merezco ser Respetada, “I Deserve to be Respected.”

This month’s Images of Interest are dedicated to those maturing girls and young women, as a reminder that we adults in the community have a responsibility to call out harassment wherever it manifests. I am deeply grateful to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, whose whose work I featured last March

In this month of Back to School and Women’s Equality day, I’m delighted to share more of her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project.

IMAGE: Many thanks to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and her Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project for this image.

A young woman’s worth

The Artdog Image of Interest

August is a month when many students start back to school–many in new schools. I’m dedicating my Images of Interest for the next several weeks to a reminder that as young girls grow into young women, whether they’re in public or private schools or in college, they often are subject to gender-based street harassment–catcalls, comments on their looks, etc. They don’t need this grief, but all too many experience it.

This photo shows a poster on a public wall covered with several other partial images. The poster that's the focus of the photo is by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. It shows a drawing of a young woman's face and shoulders, above the words, "My worth extends far beyond my body."
Tatyana FazlalizadehMy Worth extends far Beyond my Body

This month’s Images of Interest are dedicated to those maturing girls and young women, as a reminder that we adults in the community have a responsibility to call out harassment wherever it manifests. I am deeply grateful to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, whose work I featured last March

In this month of Back to School and Women’s Equality day, I’m delighted to share more of her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project.

IMAGE: Many thanks to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and her Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art project for this image.

Catcall and response

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest

Have you ever been walking down a city street, especially past a construction site, and heard somebody yell, “Hey, baby! Gimme a smile!” or similar stuff? If you’ve ever been a woman–particularly a young woman–you have. Guaranteed. Probably daily. (If you’re a man, then probably not, and you may not see what’s wrong with it).

This image is a photo of artwork by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, in this case a self-portrait, with the message "Stop telling women to smile." in this photo the artist's words have been added near the top, saying "It's a matter of control over women's bodies. And it's a serious issue to address."
Tatyana FazlalizadehStop Telling Women to Smile

While the occasional inexperienced country girl may mistake these catcalls for harmless flattery on first exposure, it soon becomes clear that the objectifying intent is neither harmless nor benign. Day after day, the merciless barrage can drag you down

This photograph shows a poster glued to a section of a wall with wood-grain like a piece of plywood. The poster shows a young woman's head and upper torso, and at the bottom it says, "My name is not Baby, Shorty, Sexy, Sweetie, Honey, Pretty, Boo, Sweetheart, Ma." The artwork is by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.
Tatyana FazlalizadehMy Name is not Baby 

t’s recognized more properly as street harassment–and NO, women don’t like it. But what can be done, right? Most of us just duck our heads and keep walking

This photo shows a large-scale poster on a brick wall, featuring the faces and upper torsos of three women, with the words underneath: "Harassing women does not prove your masculinity." The artwork is by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.
Tatyana FazlalizadehHarassing women does not prove your masculinity

Enter Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” public art campaign. All those things you so wish you could say to harassers? She says them. With large public art displays, right out there in the harassers’ space on the streets.

This photo shows one of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's posters on the side of a mailbox, overlaying several graffitti-scrawled messages. The drawing shows a young woman's head and upper torso, above the message: "Critiques on my body are not welcome."
Tatyana FazlalizadehCritiques on my Body are not Welcome

Fazlalizadeh has illustrated her messages with the faces of women she knows, women whose lives are impinged upon daily by these assaults. Her images empower all of us, not only her friends.

This photo shows a poster by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, with a drawing of a young woman's head and shoulders over the message, "Women are not outside for your entertainment."
Tatyana FazlalizadehWomen are not Outside for your Entertainment

She speaks what all of us wish we could, in a way that few can mistake

Which speak best for you? Please make comments below!

IMAGES: Many thanks to the Huffington Post, for the image at the top. Deepest gratitude to Katherine Brooks’s  2017 Huffington Post article, “Public Art Project Addresses Gender-Based Street Harassment in a Big Way,” for My name is not Baby, Critiques on my Body are not Welcome, and Women are not Outside for your Entertainment; and honor and props to  Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” page, for Harassing women does not prove your masculinity. I plan to feature more of these posters in future Images of Interest.

What is poverty, and what should we think of the poor?

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

We celebrated Human Rights Day last week, but human rights should be part of our values every day, all year long. As noted in last week’s quotehousing is listed in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the fundamentals. Yet homelessness is a widespread phenomenon, both in the USA and around the world.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Nyamnyam via Pinterest, for the quote-image from Bryan Stevenson. Unfortunately, Nyamnyam.mobi doesn’t seem to exist anymore. I did find a Nyamnyam.net that appears to come from a similar place philosophically. You might enjoy their page. Many thanks also to QuoteHD (also here), for the Sheila McKechnie quote-image (see also her foundation), and to Liberals are Cool via Summer Rain, for the “Poverty is not a lack of character” quote-image.

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